On September 3, Rev. Cary K. Gordon of Sioux City, Iowa’s Cornerstone World Outreach sent the following letter to fellow pastors in his area:
(zoom in at bottom)
The whole gist of Mr. Gordon’s letter — beyond linking his political opposition to Hitler, of course — is to encourage pastors to in turn encourage their congregants to vote against the Iowa judges who joined the unanimous decision that removed gender discrimination from the state’s marriage laws. And since Mr. Gordon’s church and all of the other churches to whom he sent the letter are receiving tax exempt status, this kind of activity raises undeniable questions regarding its lawfulness.
So that’s where Americans United for Separation of Church and State steps in. That group has filed a complaint with the IRS, asking that the matter be looked into further:
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said the church’s campaign is a clear violation of federal tax law.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a more outrageous effort to politicize churches,” said Lynn. “This deplorable scheme seeks to turn houses of worship into dens of inequity and intolerance. I call on the IRS to move swiftly to put a stop to this outrage.
“It’s bad enough that the leaders of this church are using donations from the collection plate to fund a hardball political operation,” Lynn continued. “It’s even more appalling that they are doing so in a bigoted attempt to deny civil rights to a targeted minority. This is downright shameful.”
Iowa Church’s Election Campaign Against State Supreme Court Justices Merits IRS Investigation [AUFSOC&S]
Which is a completely fair move, regardless of where one stands on marriage equality, the upcoming retention vote, church, Hitler comparisons, or any of the other matters at hand. Because the law is concrete. And if a church is violating tax code for *any reason*, citizens have the right, nay, responsibility to raise questions. And we’d say the same exact thing if it were a pro-equality church engaging in questionable election activity.
Well, leave it to the “pro-family” side to once again shirk responsibility, abandon the opportunity to objectively weigh information, and turn their side into the unquestionably innocent victim. This report comes from Focus on the Family:
And of course there’s no mention of Gordon’s harsh rhetoric. No mention of the genuine concerns at hand. No talk about all church’s responsibility to make sure they are in accordance with the law. Instead, they talk about the supposed “attacks” being wage against the church, with it all coming down to “praying hard” for the matter to play out favorably for the pastor (again, with no regard for the facts regarding tax law).
Now, will the IRS ultimately side with Americans United for Separation of Church and State? Well, we don’t know. We haven’t dug in far enough to weigh in on how we view the church’s compliance with the law. But the breadth of the case doesn’t matter in terms of our objections. Because the issue here is the right of citizen groups to raise questions, the responsibility for all of us to act in accordance with law, the ethics that churches must follow in order to obtain financial privileges, the need for this nation to maintain fair election practices, and the duty to sometimes drop the merits we see in a particular political fight and instead consider the elements that exist independent of the cause. We are more than willing to do just that. In fact, we insist on doing that. But our opposition never does, which is a major reason why this nation’s so-called “culture war” is such a hot mess of deceptive, dumbed down discourse!
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